Where is Ebelechukwu?’
‘Mummy I am here.’
‘Where have you been since morning ehn? And where are your sandals? Haven’t I warned you several times not to be walking about bare footed? Or you want to tell me you don’t have shoes again? Bring yourself here in front of me where I can see you properly. Ebelechukwu, I am going to ask you a question and I am going to ask you just once. If you know what is good for you, you better not tell me any of your usual lies. Are you listening to me Ebelechukwu?’
‘Good, where is the beans I left in that black small pot in the kitchen? Before you answer me Ebelechukwu, remember I have warned you not to lie to me. If you try it, you will see what I will do to you. Ngwa, answer me, who ate the beans I left in the kitchen?’
‘Mummy, I ate the beans.’
‘Why, Ebelechukwu? Who told you to eat it? How many times have I warned you not to eat anything that doesn’t belong to you in this house, ehn? I kept that beans so that your little sister would have something to eat when she returns from school. You are becoming very fond of this. Go and bring me my cane. I will flog some sense into that head of yours today.’
‘Mummy, I am sorry naa. It is not my fault.’
‘It is not your fault? What do you mean it is not your fault? Whose fault is it Ebelechukwu? Open that your mouth and talk to me now or you will see my red eye today.’
‘Mummy, please naa, I didn’t mean to eat the beans. It was when I got back from school and sat down on that broken chair near the kitchen door and was about removing my sandals, that I heard a voice calling my name from inside the kitchen. I was very afraid because I was the only one at home at that time. And when I finally entered the kitchen, I noticed that the voice was coming out of the black small pot on the old stove. Mummy I was afraid to touch the pot, so I used the turning stick to remove the cover. As I looked inside, the beans was calling my name and begging me to eat it. So I obeyed.’
‘My beans was calling your name Ebelechukwu? And you obeyed and sat down and ate everything? Did you use garri?’
‘Oh you even had time to soak garri with it? So Ebelechukwu, at my age you expect me to believe this nonsense you are saying? How come the beans didn’t talk to me all the time I was cooking it? How come the remaining beans in the bag have not spoken to anybody in this house since we bought it? You have become so special that you can hear the voice of beans ehn?’
‘Mummy, I am not lying, the beans begged me to eat it and I was very hungry at the time.’
‘This child, you will not kill me before my time. I am tired of your case. I will wait for your daddy to come back from work to hear this latest story of yours. Common, get out of here before I break that your coconut head.’
Ebelechukwu must be the most ridiculous liar since dinosaurs and homo habilis. But his story of talking beans is no different from the stories we will be hearing from politicians as we are being ushered into another political campaign season. Like Ebelechukwu’s mum, some of the political campaign lies have left a lot of us quite confused and shocked. We have often heard politicians use ridiculous lines like, ‘I had no intention of running for this election but the people have begged me to run and who am I to say no to the wishes of my people?’
Politicians lie so much that they can’t even tell when they are lying. They lie about one another, they lie about themselves, they lie about issues they know intimately, and they lie about issues they barely understand. When you meet a politician, he’d tell you a lie within 15 seconds of shaking your hand, and if he’s going to meet your mother, he’ll invent a special set of lies for her. Nigerians have become used to politicians lying that they receive honours for lying more frequently and more brazenly.
But let us also understand that politicians lie not because they are wicked (though some are) but because they have learned that political markets rarely reward honest campaigners. The winner of the 1993 presidential election centered his campaign on how he was once a poor man who hawked firewood on the streets. It worked brilliantly and got him a landslide victory. That may never be seen in the country again.
It wasn’t surprising when the preacher cum politician claimed to have been asked by God to contest in 2003 and 2007. Evidently, the ‘God sent’ tag didn’t go down well with a vast majority of the public.
In politics, lying is part of the job requirement, a necessary evil. Just four years ago, the president’s story of having no shoes can be said to be the masterstroke that got him elected. With just that line of “I once had no shoes”, he shattered every dream his opponents had of taking up residence at the presidential villa. If I was one of the candidates of the 2011 presidential election, after hearing the president’s jaw-dropping punch line, I would have sacked my campaign manager for failing to think up something better or equally unbelievable.
From the various campaign slogans I have heard in the past few weeks, it is embarrassingly obvious that the campaign managers these days are downright lazy or dumb. Everything from their campaign themes to music and press releases reeks of the same template used since the 1983 elections. It is a letdown for those of us who find all the political mumbo-jumbos of an election year hilarious.
But maybe we should chill a bit for it is still early into the campaign season. And even so, this campaign season has already seen two presidential hopefuls unleashed some rib-cracking lines such as, “My nomination and expression of interest forms were purchased for me by Nigerian market women and students” and “I took a loan from the bank to purchase my forms.”
All we have to do now is watch as the lines roll in until February when it will be left for INEC to determine whether the winner would be a bigger liar than the loser.
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